Women's Day: 10 trendsetters
The 100th International Women's Day is being celebrated March 8 with events around the world.
To mark the anniversary, here is a look at 10 remarkable women and their impact on social trends, entertainment, business, economics and politics.
Who: Angela Merkel
What: The first woman to serve as chancellor of Germany was re-elected for her second term in 2009. A former chemist at a science academy in East Berlin, Merkel was propelled into politics through the growing democracy movement in the late 1980s. She also chaired the G8, the second woman to do so.
What's next: Frequently compared to former British prime minister — and "Iron Lady" — Margaret Thatcher, Merkel was labeled the most powerful woman on the planet from 2006 to 2009 by Forbes magazine. Her ranking took a bit of a tumble last year (to No. 4). But Merkel, who oversees Europe's largest economy, remains a strong political force. Widely recognized for her political pragmatism and ability to compromise, she has emerged as a leader in the fight for fiscal stability in the face of the debt crises and growing multicultural tensions gripping European nations.
Who: Dilma Rousseff
What's next: In 2010, Rousseff announced her candidacy for president for the ruling Workers' Party. As Chief of Staff for the popular Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Rousseff vowed to continue many of his policies. On Oct. 31, she won in a runoff election, becoming the country's first female president. Rousseff is now charged with overseeing Brazil's meteoric economic growth. The eyes of the world will also be on Rousseff and her country as Brazil prepares to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Who: Michelle Obama
What's next: Named Forbes magazine's most powerful woman in 2010, the Harvard-educated lawyer is not afraid to get her hands dirty for causes she believes in, right down to digging up the grass outside the White House to help create a garden of healthy vegetables. When she began a campaign against childhood obesity, food retail giants promised to lower the calories in their products. Even her clothing choices — a mix of high fashion and items from mainstream retail chains — set off trends: a New York University business professor found companies register a 2.3 per cent stock gain when she wears their apparel.
Who: Lady Gaga
What's next: Gaga has enjoyed a raft of hit singles and the attendant riches, but that's not the sum total of her cultural impact. Her outlandish attire and frequently bizarre performances are inspiring fashion designers and other musicians. She has also become a gay icon, using public appearances and Twitter to advocate for same-sex marriage, the repeal of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and gay emancipation in general.
Who: Queen Rania Al-Abdullah
What's next: Queen Rania is very active in social media, with more than a million Twitter followers and a YouTube channel where she posts monologues aimed at breaking down stereotypes about Islam. As democratic sentiment surges through the Middle East and political power changes hands, Queen Rania could play a vital role as diplomat and advocate.
Who: Arianna Huffington
What's next: On Feb. 7, AOL announced that it had acquired The Huffington Post for $315 million US, in the process installing Huffington as president and editor-in-chief of the newly formed Huffington Post Media Group, which oversees the news site as well as AOL Music, Moviefone and MapQuest. The merger solidified Huffington's claim as one of the most powerful people in modern media, and it will be interesting to see what she does with AOL's clout and resources in the coming months.
Who: Hillary Clinton
What's Next: The revolutions in Egypt and Libya are forcing the U.S. to re-calibrate its Middle East policy — from building new alliances to securing oil. This means Clinton will likely be a crucial player on the world stage as Middle East nations forge new political systems and global ties. Ultimately, she could play a more important part in the course of international affairs than many of her predecessors.
Who: Oprah Winfrey
What's next: Her TV show is drawing to a close, but with a magazine, satellite radio show and cable TV network launched in January 2011, her influence seems unlikely to wane any time soon. She has repeatedly rebuffed attempts to woo her as a candidate for public office, but as her popularity and influence grows, it's hard to believe that politics won't be in her future in some capacity.
Who: Aung San Suu Kyi
What's next: The last time an election was held in the country with results that were considered even vaguely legitimate by other nations, her NLD party took more than 80 per cent of the seats. Already the symbolic leader of the Burmese opposition, Suu Kyi is ideally positioned to form at least an interim government if Burma's current military regime falls.
Who: Indra Nooyi
What's next: In 2006, Nooyi was named CEO of PepsiCo. Under her leadership, the company moved to acquire its two largest North American bottlers in 2009 and made its largest international acquisition in 2010, buying a majority stake in a major Russian dairy. Her decisions regarding the company's internal structure have led PepsiCo to amass the largest portfolio of brands with more than $1 billion US in annual sales: 19 in total, including Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Doritos. Besides the impact Nooyi's daily decisions have on national economies around the world — both those that supply the raw materials and those that buy the resulting products — the company's massive global marketing power influences an entire "Pepsi generation" of consumers.